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The U.S. Military Spying on Americans is Not the Change I Believed In

(Tip of the pen to qs)

The Defense Department calls its new unit FICOR — the Foreign Intelligence and Counterintelligence Operation Records. But the military group describes the data it will collect through intelligence and data mining operations:

“Social Security Number (SSN), address, citizenship documentation, biometric data, passport number, vehicle identification number and vehicle/vessel license data… [from] Federal, state, local, and tribal entities, foreign intelligence agencies, educational and research institutions, foreign governments and open source literature.”

Data collected from “federal, state, local, and tribal entities” including a person’s “Social Security Number (SSN)”? How foreign does that sound to you?

Military spying on Americans? No, that’s not Change I Can Believe In. It’s more of the same. Read up on the Bush-era TALON program, a military program that spied on law-abiding American citizens without their knowledge and without a warrant, solely on the basis of their political activity (For the younger among you who may not have heard of this thing called a “warrant,” see the increasingly quaint document known as the U.S. Constitution, Amendment 4. See also “freedom of assembly and petition,” Amendment 1). Read especially the part of the 2007 Defense Department brief in which the military explicitly indicates it will keep the data and restart the program in the future:

DoD to Implement Interim Threat Reporting Procedures

DoD’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) will close the TALON Reporting System effective Sept. 17, 2007, and maintain a record copy of the collected data in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements.

To ensure there is a mechanism in place to document and assess potential threats to DoD resources, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs will propose a system to streamline such threat reporting and better meet the Defense department’s needs.

In the interim, until this new reporting program is adopted, DoD components will send information concerning force protection threats to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Guardian reporting system.

It was hiding there in plain sight: no, the military never planned on keeping TALON shut down at all. But the military has a new Commander in Chief. Barack Obama could have stopped this domestic military surveillance. But he went right along with it. That’s not Change. It’s more of the same.

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